The first consumer product with Mazza’s PhytoClean seal on the label was the recently launched Mediterranean Whole Food Blend by Life Extension, which marked a “milestone” for the company, said Benjamin Lightburn, president of Mazza. The product contains extracts standardized to 25% polyphenols from grapes, olives, pomegranates, black walnuts, pecans, artichokes and lentils.
“We are also making forays into clinically validated ingredients, with a specific spearmint variety produced by the University of Guelph that is positioned for joint health,” Lightburn told NutraIngredients-USA during the recent Vitafoods.
The company was founded in 2011 by food scientist Dr Guiseppe (Joe) Mazza, who developed an environmentally friendly, water-based solvent-free extraction method. Under normal conditions, water extraction does not work well for many bioactive compounds because they are only indifferently soluble, leading to the use of various solvents starting with ethanol.
But Mazza’s technology applies heat and pressure to water to lower its polarity, causing it to behave like an organic solvent. The pressure keeps the water as a liquid even though the temperature is over 100 °C (212 °F). While Dr Mazza did not discover this property of water he was the first to see its possibilities in botanical extraction.
The extraction technique is also flexible. By subtly altering the pressure and temperature, the solvent action of the water can be fine-tuned to pull out more or less of the bioactive molecules sought. A bonus property of the process is that once the temperatures drops and the pressure is released, those extracted, insoluble fractions start to precipitate out of the water in the vessel.
In addition to the PhytoClean ingredients, the company also offers processing botanical biomasses for customers (toll processing): Mazza produces cranberry extracts for Naturex and a purple corn extract for ChromaDex, for example. “We can process up to one ton per day of biomass,” explained Lightburn, “and we’re expanding to get up to three tons per day.”
The company also supplies a range of PhytoClean-branded ingredients, most of which are organic and kosher. “Since it’s a water extraction, it’s easier to get organic certification,” noted Lightburn.
A third business opportunity is in technology licensing and equipment sales. “In specific circumstances it may be better for a consumer to buy a standalone extractor processing unit,” said Lightburn. This could be for a company to extract their own botanical ingredients or conduct research on the interesting bioactives that might be in their biomasses, either virgin biomass or biomass that is leftover and normally discarded after processing for other ingredients. There is currently only one existing licensing agreement with a partner in Europe, he added.
Versus supercritical CO2
The technology works really well for extracting polar compounds, said Lightburn. There is significant buzz in the industry about supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction - this is similar and complementary to Mazza’s extraction method.
Supercritical CO2 mimics a non-polar solvent like hexane and is used for lipid extractions, for example.